It’s pretty difficult for a quarterback to finish the season north of 30 touchdown passes without adequate protection up front. Similarly, a 45-touchdown, 6-interception season requires sheer excellence out of the offensive line. Aaron Rodgers’ MVP numbers hint at the type of season the offensive line experienced in 2011.
In his contract year, Scott Wells turned in one of his finest seasons as a Packer, giving Ted Thompson lots to think about as the veteran center becomes a free agent. Ball security between Wells and Rodgers was almost never an issue, nor was pre-snap communication. Without a capable backup behind him on the depth chart, Wells was able to remain healthy and productive for the entire year.
Fans looked for four-year guard Josh Sitton to capture the pro bowl spot he earned in 2010, but were disappointed. Sitton was held to a high standard and failed to create gaping holes inside for James Starks on a consistent basis. Though he was not remarkably better than Sitton, T.J. Lang filled in nicely for the overrated Daryn Colledge and should retain the left guard spot for years to come.
Interior Offensive Line Grade: A-
The Packers experienced a health crisis at offensive tackle in 2011 and handled it brilliantly (compared to the absolute disaster in 2009 that didn’t even result from injury). Youngsters Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod played admirably when called upon – especially Newhouse, who manned the left tackle position for the majority of the season.
Bryan Bulaga excelled at right tackle in 2011 and proved that he has the potential to protect Rodgers’ blindside, if that situation arises next season. While Chad Clifton made the most of his limited playing time in 2011, it’s hard to imagine the Packers bringing back the 35 year-old veteran with a wealth of talent behind him on the depth chart.